Montag, 10. November 2014, 18:15 - 20:00 iCal

9th Eric Wolf Lecture - Ulf Hannerz

Writing Futures: An Anthropologist's View of Global Scenarios

Festsaal der Österreichischen Akademie der Wissenschaften
Dr.-Ignaz-Seipel-Platz 2, 1010 Vienna


Toward the end of the twentieth century, the Cold War ended and “globalization” became a key word in public discourse. The new configuration allowed people to ask, with relief or anxiety, what might happen next. A small but lively intellectual industry rose to the challenge, creating scenarios for a born-again world. As the world turned, new worlds could be imagined, suggests Ulf Hannerz.

9/11 sparked another wave of global commentary. Hot wars in Central Asia and the Middle East, followed by economic upheavals that spread rather unevenly across the world, affected shifts in global centers of gravity. This again generated more new scenarios for the world. Often the future visions could be encapsulated in striking catch phrases: “the end of history,” “the clash of civilizations,” “Jihad versus McWorld,” “soft power,” and others.

The 2014 Eric Wolf Lecture scrutinizes world scenarios as a genre of creative writing, while also considering their role as a set of representations of the world, which are now circulated, received, and debated in a worldwide web of social relationships. As a contemporary sociocultural phenomenon, the scenarios emerge from a zone of knowledge production where academia, media, and politics meet. The authors are “global public intellectuals.” While anthropology has contributed little to world scenarios directly, these writings deserve attention for the way they offer a “big picture” of the world and mobilize cultural understanding.

Ulf Hannerz is Professor emeritus of Social Anthropology, Stockholm University, Sweden, and a member of the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences, the Austrian Academy of Sciences, and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. He formerly chaired the European Association of Social Anthropologists and directed the Swedish Collegium for Advanced Study in the Social Sciences (SCASSS). He has carried out field studies in West Africa, the Caribbean, and the United States, as well as a multi-site study of the work of foreign correspondents in the news media.

Zur Webseite der Veranstaltung


IFK, ÖAW, Institute for Social Anthropology der ÖAW, Institut für Kultur- und Sozialanthropologie der Universität Wien


Mag. Marie-Therese Hartwig
Institut für Kultur- und Sozialanthropologie